While the savethebasin.org.nz website is under construction, we thought it was important to provide some information to everyone who wants to know exactly what the NZ Transport Agency and the Greater Wellington Regional Council have planned.
Q: So what are these government agencies planning?
A: The intention is to build an enormous concrete flyover across the northern face of the Basin Reserve linking the entrance to the Mt Victoria tunnel on the eastern side with Buckle Street on the western side – along with a series of onramps and offramps to enable traffic to flow around the Basin. This huge concrete construction will be around 10 metres tall, will cost (we estimate) more than $50 million, and will completely ruin the Basin Reserve as a sporting and cultural venue.
Q: I’ve heard this is necessary to accommodate growing traffic volumes …
A: Only if you believe the GWRC traffic modeling. The surveys conducted by the Mt Victoria community early in 2008 showed that around 70% of vehicles passing through the Mt Victoria tunnel at rush hour were single occupant – in other words, they were a single person traveling to and from work in the most inefficient way possible. We think that simple travel demand management and some re-phasing of traffic lights would achieve all of the goals of the flyover at a small fraction of the cost. And besides, the latest traffic surveys indicate that traffic volumes are falling, not rising.
Q: According to the Greater Wellington Council, the flyover has a positive economic impact
A: Again, you have to be drinking the traffic modeling Kool Aid to think that there is any positive economic benefit. The Council estimates that the cost of the project is around $35 million, but that’s before the inevitable cost over-runs. After all, the Inner City Bypass cost around double the original estimates, so there’s no reason to think that the flyover will be completed for anything like the figure being quoted. And given that the “benefits” were only marginally greater than the costs, the inevitable – and substantial – cost increases will mean the project never makes any economic sense.
So what will the impact on the Basin Reserve be?
The atmosphere at the Basin will be completely ruined by this project. As the flyover will be hanging about the fence-line, the traffic noise levels within the Basin will be around double what they are today, and spectators will be lucky to hear the sound of bat on ball at all. In addition, the pollution from the cars and trucks will be free to blow across the Basin in the prevailing northerly wind, so the environment will be much less pleasant for spectators and player alike – it will become significantly more polluted and noisy than it is today.
So what can I do?
Unfortunately the New Zealand Transport Agency and the Greater Wellington Regional Council have a long and illustrious history of brushing aside the concerns of local residents, and the Basin Reserve is no exception to this trend. Public consultation on the issue has been largely ignored, with 79% of submitters strongly opposed to construction of the flyover. However NZTA and the Council seem determined to push ahead anyway. So to prevent the Basin Reserve being ruined, here’s what you can do:
• Write to Fran Wilde, Chair of the Greater Wellington Regional Council, and let her know that you’re opposed to the loss of the Basin Reserve. Her postal address is c/- GWRC, PO Box 11-646, Wellington 6142.
• Contact you local MP and let them know that you’re unhappy with the loss of an iconic New Zealand cultural facility. You can find postal and e-mail addresses for your MP here.
• Call the New Zealand Transport Agency on 04 894 5400 and let them know you’d prefer cricket to boy racers and noisy trucks and the Basin Reserve, and that you don’t want your tax dollars wasted on pointless roading projects.